Police in northern British Columbia continue to search for two missing Port Alberni teens whose vehicle was discovered on fire Friday in the same area where the body of an unknown man was found.
B.C. RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau said Monday the body is that of a heavy-set white man in his 50s or 60s who was found approximately two kilometres from the missing teens' burning vehicle.
The man is described as between 5'8" and 5'10" tall with a grey beard and grey hair. Police released a sketch of the man Monday, hoping someone might recognize him.
As part of the investigation, they've set up a new tip line. Members of the public are asked to contact investigators at 1-877-543-4822, or the Major Crimes line at 778-290-5291.
It is not yet known whether the death is connected to the vehicle or the missing teens.
Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, both of Port Alberni, have been missing since Friday, when they were last seen heading south from the Super A general store in Dease Lake, B.C.
"At this time it's just a missing persons investigation," Manseau said. "It's possible that they are now in an area without cell coverage."
The teens had been looking for work, and were driving a red and grey Dodge pickup truck with a sleeping camper on the back.
However, the discovery of their vehicle prompted police to reach out, asking McLeod and Schmegelsky to let someone know they're OK.
"Right now we're using all conventional techniques including air services, police dog services and search and rescue to search for the missing men," Cpl. Chris Manseau said.
Both teens are described as about 6'4" and 170 pounds. McLeod has dark brown hair, facial hair and brown eyes. Schmegelsky has sandy brown hair, police said.
The mayor of Port Alberni says the entire city is awaiting word on the whereabouts of McLeod and Schmegelsky.
"It sounds like just a tragic situation and our thoughts are really just going out to the boys and their families and hoping that they're found safe and sound as soon as possible," Mayor Sharie Minions told CTV News on Monday.
"In a small community when something like this happens, everybody feels it and we're all worried about where they are," Minions said.
Police said in a release Sunday night that officers investigating a vehicle fire on Highway 37 about 50 kilometres south of Dease Lake, B.C., received information that led them to discover the body at a highway pullout about two kilometres from the scene of the fire.
"I can't imagine what it would feel like as a family member to be waiting and hoping that the boys are found safe," Minions said.
B.C. Premier John Horgan also weighed in on the missing teens.
"I would say to British Columbians and to visitors and visitors who are coming and enjoying a beautiful province at a beautiful time of the year, 'Continue to enjoy all that we have to offer here,'" Horgan said Monday.
"But a note of caution that certainly everyone needs to be careful and safe when they're travelling throughout B.C," he added.
Police said Monday they were still working to identify the male body that was found, determine the cause of death, and whether there was any connection with the two missing men.
Dease Lake is about 470 kilometres away from where 23-year-old Australian Lucas Fowler and his 24-year-old American girlfriend Chynna Deese were found murdered earlier in the week along the Alaska Highway near Liard Hot Springs.
Police acknowledge in their Sunday release that “there are growing community concerns about the ongoing homicide investigations in northern B.C.”
They add that investigators “are sharing information” about the cases, but don't say whether any connection between the two has yet been made.